10 Volunteers Go Public With Their DNA

Database will divulge what really makes a Harvard man, and other genetic secrets
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2008 10:51 AM CDT
Harvard psychhologist Steven Pinker is one of the "PGP 10," the 10 initial subjects of an online, open-access genetics database.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Ten volunteers, including some rather well known ones, are exposing themselves online, the New York Times reports, by making their DNA available for anyone to peruse. The goal of the Personal Genome Project is to start making genetic information—along with personal traits called phenotypes—publicly available, a move whose scientific usefulness is huge and whose social implications are unclear. That's why the first group consists of only experts or investors in the field.

With data going public today, we could potentially tell whether Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker is predisposed to Alzheimer's, or whether astronaut-in-training Esther Dyson is prone to heart attacks. But the way the “PGP 10” see it, the research possibilities of a 100,000-person database—the project's goal—are worth the risk of being stigmatized.